We all fear Big Brother and our loss of privacy. But consider this: If we had a database of everyone’s DNA, maybe taken as standard procedure at birth, the risk that rapists would be caught might be too great for them to commit these heinous crimes. Combine that with a “zero tolerance” automatic sentence of life in prison, and we may actually turn this tide of violence against women around.

Look at the headlines just this past week. Realtor Beverly Carter kidnapped and killed in Arkansas; 18-year-old student Hannah Graham still missing in Virginia; a teacher in Florida brutally raped by a student. Do we just let the status quo reign? We’re told this violence against women happens every six minutes in this country. While you read this, another rape. And for those of you opposed to keeping convicted rapists from ever being released, consider this analogy: You are riding on a bus. Your fellow passenger has previously been convicted of killing someone randomly on a bus. He did his time. It’s all good. Do you want him sitting next to you, with his loaded gun? How comfortable are you feeling right about now? Do you think sitting in a cell turned him magically into a caring, law-abiding citizen? This violence will not stop until the consequences for the criminal are too great to take the risk.

Gail Mullaney, Maplewood

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Let’s be upfront about the obstacles

While I agree with the Star Tribune Editorial Board that affordable housing access should be further expanded to neighborhoods and cities throughout the metro, the Sept. 30 editorial (“Seeking fairness in affordable housing”) missed several important points.

First, it is important to note that successful developments, both market-rate and affordable, are largely the result of teamwork among housing developers, municipal leaders and city staff. Significant barriers to building more affordable housing in higher-income neighborhoods and suburbs throughout the region are high land costs, which can make affordable developments financially unfeasible, and active resistance from residents and local leaders. While much focus has been placed on the Metropolitan Council and its housing policy plan, the persistent obstruction of local cities and neighborhoods through discriminatory zoning patterns, a lack of local funding sources for affordable developments and outright protest to proposed projects should not be ignored.

Also, we cannot ignore the need to rehabilitate existing affordable housing, particularly in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Funding from the Met Council and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency help revitalize aging complexes, improving the neighborhood aesthetic and restoring dignity for the families living there.

Noel Nix, St. Paul

• • •

While the editorial draws helpful attention to the need for affordable housing in outer-ring suburban communities, it glosses over the definition of “affordable.” Past metropolitan housing policy has failed truly low-income Twin Citians by defining as affordable that housing cost which works for a family whose income is $64,000 (current level for a family of four, as referenced in the editorial).

Fortunately, the Metropolitan Council, in its proposed housing policy, acknowledges for the first time that housing goals should be set for affordability at various levels of low income. This decision provides some hope to those paid minimum wage or living on Social Security who face a nearly impossible task of finding decent housing they can afford regardless of location, suburb or core city.

Chip Halbach, St. Paul

 

The writer is director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

 

WORKING PARENTS

Earned sick time helps take the pressure off

Early in my career, during the 1970s, it was not acceptable to call in sick during your child’s illness. For a mother, this made working a high-stakes game: Do I work, or do I provide the care needed for my child? Of course, child care came first.

Forty years later, many companies still do not provide workers earned sick time. Making the provision of this benefit a statewide practice would help people to meet the obligations of both work and family.

I do remember one company that did provide a caring, compassionate work atmosphere. The owner allowed mothers (and fathers) time needed to care for sick family members and made them feel like valued employees. Everyone went above and beyond to give their best. Not every company will do this, but I believe it is a key to the success of the corporation. Good benefits make great employees. Earned sick time is a good benefit.

Jeanne Partlow, Eagan

 

GOVERNOR’S RACE

Horner backs Johnson, but one might ask why

So Tom Horner endorses Jeff Johnson for governor (“Johnson’s leadership will benefit state,” Sept. 29). However, let’s look at some of Horner’s viewpoints and policies over the years. On social issues, he is prochoice and supported legalizing gay marriage, like Gov. Mark Dayton. He supported public financing for a new Vikings stadium, like Dayton. He supported a budget of taxes and cuts and a cigarette-tax increase, like Dayton. He also supported legalizing limited medical marijuana, was against voter ID and was against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union bill, like Dayton. And finally, he supported tougher antibullying legislation, like Dayton. So while Horner the politician is supporting Johnson, his policies and viewpoints seem to point in another direction.

William Cory Labovitch, South St. Paul

 

U.S. SENATE RACE

A clear choice, if life is an issue you value

Recently a conservative voter (Readers Write, Sept. 26) expressed disappointment that U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden held much the same views as incumbent Sen. Al Franken on some issues. Nobody compared their views on life issues. There you would find a stark difference. A look at Franken’s voting record is very clear.

Mary Leach, St. Paul

 

WHITE HOUSE SECURITY

That fence, at 7 feet, is too short for our era

The fence around Buckingham Palace is 19 feet tall. The current White House fence is only 7 feet, 6 inches, and it was installed in 1965. The privacy fence in my back yard to keep my dog in is 6 feet tall.

The security threats in the world have changed in the past 49 years (“Intruder dashed through White House,” Sept. 30). Wouldn’t something as simple as a taller fence be a good first step?

David Paulson, Eagan